Why Republicans can’t make a deal on the ‘fiscal cliff’

I’m with Lindsey Graham, who said, “I think we’re going over the fiscal cliff” this past weekend. We are. And we are, because Congressional Republicans, and their ostensible leader, John Boehner, can’t make the deal they know they have to in order to avert across-the-board tax increases.

Why can’t they? It’s not because they care about deficits. More than 40 years of GOP history, from Reagan’s deficit-exploding tax cuts to George W. Bush’s, on top of massive defense spending, wars paid for off the books, the budget-shredding “war on terror” and Medicare Part D — which was also not paid for — proves that Dick Cheney wasn’t kidding back in the day when he said that “deficits don’t matter.” Specifically, they don’t matter to Republicans. What matters to Republicans is rich people. The rich people who give money to their campaigns, to be very specific about it.

John Fund, who is rarely right about anything when it comes to politics, wrote this in the National Review, and it is, shockingly for Fund, true:

Conservative groups are sending written warnings to both congressional Republicans and the Republican National Committee. If Republicans sign on to a deal that raises taxes, they risk an open break with large portions of their base. “This is a time of testing for you,” more than 70 conservative leaders write in an open letter sent Friday morning to every GOP member of Congress. They warn that if a budget deal that raises taxes is passed with GOP fingerprints on it, conservatives will “see that the current leadership is not an acceptable alternative to the left. Conservatives would then likely repeat what they did in the 1970s, when they systematically and successfully undertook a multi-year effort to replace Republican congressional leadership.”

The letter goes on to warn that there are two ways President Obama and liberal Democrats could turn their economic agenda into law. First, just enough Republicans could vote with the Democrats to provide a narrow majority for tax hikes. Or the Republican leadership in both houses could negotiate a “deal” and pressure Republican congressmen and senators to approve it. “Either of these two courses would be a disaster for conservative principles because they would result in permanent advances for the ‘fundamental changes’ the left wants to impose on our country,” the conservative leaders warn.

Among the leading conservatives who signed the letter are Morton Blackwell, a prominent member of the RNC from Virginia; Colin Hanna, head of Let Freedom Ring; and Tony Perkins, a well-known pro-family leader. Their tough message was amplified and sharpened in a separate letter to Reince Priebus, the RNC’s chair, written this week by Brent Bozell, the chairman of ForAmerica and a noted fundraiser for conservative groups combating media bias and liberal legislation. Bozell noted that he has spent over 30 years raising hundreds of millions of dollars for “an alphabet soup of conservative causes,” including the Media Research Center, which he founded. But his involvement with the Republican party would end with a budget deal that raised taxes. …

Here’s part of what Bozell had to say to Reince:

“Reince, it pains me to say this, but if the Republican Party breaks its word to the American people and goes along with President Obama with tax increases, it will have betrayed conservatives for the final time,” he wrote. “I will make it my mission to ensure that every conservative donor to the Republican Party that I have worked with for the last three decades—and there are many and they have given tens of millions to Republican causes—gives not one penny more to the Republican Party or any member of Congress that votes for tax increases.”

Read the rest here.

A few media outlets have noted that what makes anti-tax jihadist Grover Norquist so powerful is not his “pledge,” it’s his donors — a tiny number of mega-nonprofits, mainly — who wield considerable financial influence over the GOP, particularly since the party, and its congressional committees, tend to be much more reliant on large donors (people who give more than $200 — in some case much, much more …) than Democrats are. In the first quarter of 2012, the small donor ratio was 40 percent for the DCCC to just 8 percent for the NRCC. And in August of this year, small donors continued to fuel stronger DCCC fundraising compared to their Republican counterparts. Ditto by the end of the campaign. And there are a few things about big GOP donors that Washington Republicans surely understand:

1. Big GOP donors are very, very conservative. In fact, some of them are kooky, conspiracy minded, and radical.

2. Big GOP donors no longer feel beholden to the Republican Party as a channel for their money and influence. The rise of outside groups has, in that sense, hurt Republicans more than Democrats. Those super-PACs are more toxic as avatars of GOP primary spending than they are effective in a general election. Just as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

3. The combination of radicalism, doctrinaire belief in not paying a penny more in taxes (witness all the CEOs who threatened to fire their employees if they didn’t vote for Romney, or who are now threatening to raise their prices or lay people off in response to Obamacare) and third party groups makes for very scared Republicans on the Hill.

Including John Boehner.

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4 Responses to Why Republicans can’t make a deal on the ‘fiscal cliff’

  1. Annette says:

    I don’t believe it. It is a threat pure and simple. Where are they going to put their money? They sure aren’t going to all of a sudden turn around and give to the Democrats or other progressive causes. They will just find other Republicans and Tea Partyists to donate to.

    As I said it is an empty threat and they are allowing themselves to be manipulated by them.

  2. Raggedy says:

    Why do the very same people who fight tooth and nail to keep the Bush tax cuts for themselves keep blaming the same tax cuts as the root of all evil? Fact is that these people think they are entitled to free treats while others are not. Talking about self-interest here?
    And, btw. I was more than shocked when I read shortly after the elections that our president was told by his Hispanic voters that he “owes” them. I think that is truly troubling.

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  4. Steve Davies says:

    We need to go over the cliff.. It is good for our children’s children. Now there are some important things we can do. One… stop letting businesses right off advertising expenses.. Even when we don’t buy what advertisers are selling we still pay because of the deduction.. If no right off is available… only those who buy pay for the ad. The fiscal cliff is better than giving the president money for pet projects. We would just have to pay more interest on the loans we give.. Let’s tighten our belt.. for a few years… instead of buying things we don’t need.. or that advertisers are selling us.. let’s do free stuff.. One idea is to pick one day per week to not spend any money… how about Sunday. That is 52 days per year we don’t spend money… 1 7th of the time.. Think about that! Another way to save money through taxation is to stop consuming things with high taxes like addicting things… like video games, alcohol, cigarettes.. Do fun things like walk in the park… swim.. play… We will make it fine… Let’s go over the cliff…

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